A plane will be flown into outer space at five times the speed of sound, deliver the payload and return to land like an aircraft. In a major technology demonstration ultimately aimed at cutting down the cost of satellite launches to one-tenth the present rates, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will flight test an indigenously developed re-usable satellite launch vehicle for the first time this September. Under the project, a plane will be flown into outer space at five times the speed of sound, deliver the payload and then land back like an aircraft. At present, the various stages in a satellite launch vehicle fall off in succession during launch and cannot be reused, making such launches expensive. “The launch vehicle will be landing for the first time in the ocean and the ultimate attempt is to make it land at an airstrip at Sriharikota,” ISRO chairman A.S. Kiran Kumar said at a press conference. Mr. Kumar said wind tunnel modelling and other tests had been completed. “It is in starting point. There is a long way to go,” he added. Minister of State for Department of Space Mr Jitendra Singh said 11 satellites were launched in the last one year and by next year the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System would be operationalised. It will be only the third such system in the world. Mr. Singh launched an Android-based application ‘Sakaar’, an “augmented reality application” intended to give a real world environment to visualise ISRO projects. It provides in real time, three-dimensional models of Mars Missions, various satellites, launch vehicles and other projects of ISRO. “We will be distributing this in schools and other institutes for free so that students can get a better understanding of our space working,” Mr. Singh said. There are currently no reusable launch vehicles in operation anywhere.
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